Thursday, May 20, 2021

Pg. 99: Mary K. Bercaw Edwards's "Sailor Talk"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Sailor Talk: Labor, Utterance, and Meaning in the Works of Melville, Conrad, and London by Mary K. Bercaw Edwards.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book investigates the highly engaging topic of the literary and cultural significance of 'sailor talk.' The central argument is that sailor talk offers a way of rethinking the figure of the nineteenth-century sailor and sailor-writer, whose language articulated the rich, layered, and complex culture of sailors in port and at sea. From this argument many other compelling threads emerge, including questions relating to the seafarer's multifaceted identity, maritime labor, questions of performativity, the ship as 'theater,' the varied and multiple registers of 'sailor talk,' and the foundational role of maritime language in the lives and works of Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, and Jack London. The book also includes nods to James Fenimore Cooper, Rudyard Kipling, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Meticulous scholarly research underpins the close readings of literary texts and the scrupulously detailed biographical accounts of three major sailor-writers. The author's own lived experience as a seafarer adds a refreshingly materialist dimension to the subtle literary readings. The book represents a valuable addition to a growing scholarly and political interest in the sea and sea literature. By taking the sailor's viewpoint and listening to sailors' voices, the book also marks a clear intervention in this developing field.
Learn more about Sailor Talk at the Liverpool University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Sailor Talk.

--Marshal Zeringue